Don’t Let Corporations Sidestep Environmental Laws

Target: Jerry Brown, Governor of California

Goal: Close the loophole that allows corporations to bypass environmental laws and speed up developments.

Big corporations like Walmart are using California’s ballot initiative system to sidestep the state’s environmental laws and speed up major developments. The system allows residents to propose and approve laws by popular vote, and has been used in the past to cut property taxes and even enact the country’s first medical marijuana law. Now, however, the ballot initiative is being exploited to avoid potential lawsuits under the California Environmental Quality Act. Even worse, most residents do not even get a chance to vote when corporations use this system to speed up their projects; after just 15 percent of eligible voters have signed, officials can approve the project in order to avoid paying for a special election. Developers should not be able to manipulate the law to their advantage, and this dangerous loophole needs to be addressed by California’s state officials before more damage is done to the environment.

Walmart was the first corporation to use the ballot initiative system to speed up construction, and in eight out of nine cities the company’s plans for new stores were approved by elected officials without a vote. Many other corporations have followed in Walmart’s footsteps, resulting in the swift approval of a shopping center north of San Diego, a huge warehouse complex in Moreno Valley, and a stadium in Inglewood.  The warehouse complex caused so much pollution in an already polluted area that environmental groups sued, but after the project’s ballot initiative was approved by the City Council it was effectively shielded from any environmental lawsuits. According to the New York Times, the developer spent a suspicious amount of money to aid the election of supporting Council members, though any collusion has been denied by the councilmen involved.

California’s Environmental Quality Act requires companies to identify and minimize any environmental effects from their projects, and this important step should never be skipped during the construction of any major development. Sign the petition below to demand that the state increases regulation of the ballot initiative system in order to keep corporations from exploiting this process and bypassing environmental laws.


Dear Governor Brown,

California’s ballot initiative system is being exploited by big corporations to speed up major developments and dodge the state’s environmental laws. The system allows companies like Walmart to avoid potential lawsuits under California’s Environmental Quality Act, and most residents don’t even get a chance to vote before projects are approved by elected officials.

Walmart used the ballot initiative system in at least nine California cities to plan new stores, eight of which were approved by officials without a vote. Other corporations have followed suit, resulting in the approval of a massive warehouse complex in the already heavily polluted Moreno Valley. As soon as the project’s ballot initiative was approved by the City Council, the company was protected from any environmental lawsuits despite the development’s obvious environmental dangers.

I am urging you to address this loophole that allows corporations to avoid environmental laws. Please take action to regulate the use of the ballot initiative system when it comes to development projects, and protect California’s environment from any further damage.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Mike Mozart

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One Comment

  1. Lisa Zarafonetis says:

    Signed & Shared. ?

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